The Google Generation: is easy access to information really such a great thing?

Lately I have been wondering what the implications are of having all this information so readily available and easily accessible through Google. Of course, I can remember a time when life wasn’t like this. But for the so called “Google Generation,” they have never known life to be any different. They are the so-called cohort of young people born after 1993, with little or no recollection of life before the web. So, to find out more about this overload of information and what it is doing to people, I did what I know best – I asked Google. Apparently, there is a new emerging concept of “Education 2.0.” This is the idea that memorization of facts and figures is no longer necessary, because you can just look “that stuff” up on Google. It’s more important to just understand the context so that you can focus on context and meaning rather than facts.
But is it really true? Many people still believe that it is essential to have an internal knowledge base of facts in your own mind, in which to draw conclusions from and use to contribute to meaningful conversations. And others say that “the more you know and understand, the easier it is to learn new information and understand it.”
“Personally, I believe that it is not enough to just have easy access to information. You still need to know how to question that information, or be able to recognize when it is just plain wrong. You also need to know how to conduct strategic searches so that you can find the most relevant and important information. So, I’d like to pose the question to you. Do you believe that it is no longer necessary to memorize facts, when hey – you can just look it up on Google?”

Find me on Twitter: @jacbird and @masitblog

Science 2.0: the new wave of science

So by now, we have all heard of Web 2.0, right? In case you haven’t, Wiktionary defines it as “The second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static web pages to dynamic and shareable content and social networking” For instance, the tools of Web 2.0 include sites like


Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, Twitter, Flickr, and social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Fark etc. And now, the idea of Science 2.0 has come into being because of the tools of Web 2.0. Science 2.0 can be defined as a second generation of science, where researchers use wikis, blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies as a potentially transformative way of doing science (see the Scientific American link below).

Science 2.0 Aspects:

  • online collaboration
  • tagging of scientific data to create searchable databases
  • FaceBook-like social networking sites for researchers (can use to find like-minded collaborators)
  • open notebook science – posting your live notebook with raw results on the web

What are the benefits?

Basically, I think Science 2.0 is a great idea! It just seems that science is better and more fun when it is being discussed with a group of people. I don’t know about you, but when I was studying science at school, I always found it to be more rewarding when problems and ideas were discussed with a group of friends. Also, the tools of Web 2.0 will allow for better cross-discipline collaboration and less isolation among smaller labs.

What are some challenges?

After reading various articles on Science 2.0, there seems to be some fear about “getting scooped” (i.e. if you make your ideas readily available on the web, then perhaps someone else could try to get credit for them. Or, someone could build on your ideas and discover something, that you yourself would have found out given just a little more time). There’s also some concern about not receiving formal credit for contributing your ideas to wikis and blogs etc. I understand this fear of getting “scooped”, no one would want the credit for their hard work to go to someone else. At the same time, if someone makes a leaping discovery based on your work, isn’t it only fair that they should at least get some credit? And as for not getting formal credit for contributing to blogs etc. Well, aren’t you in science because you love it? Aren’t you happy to be discussing it with your peers? All this fuss about not receiving credit because you contributed something to a blog post seems a little petty to me. Blogs and wikis are not intended as a replacement for online journals, so you would still have those for your career advancement.

Science 2.0 Examples:

Website Resources:


Find me on Twitter: jacbird